Saturday, January 31, 2015


Hulupalooza! (Post 12 of 12)

Marketa Lazarova

Renowned Czechoslovakian epic that comes across like part Ingmar Bergman and part David Lean. Set during the middle ages, Marketa Lazarova depicts quests for power, kidnapping, raping, pillaging, war and an awful lot of snow. I did feel at times that I need a guide to keep up with all the characters, but I will say this is one of the most beautifully shot films that I have ever seen.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Hulupalooza! (Post 11 of 12)

Voyage to Italy

Roberto Rossellini's Voyage to Italy is a film that doesn't seem to have a lot to it at first glance. A couple that have been married for several years travel to Italy and discover their marriage is in trouble and whose love for each other is in question. The husband (George Sanders) is a workaholic whose time away has caused some friction with his wife (Ingrid Bergman). She spends a lot of her time at museums and tries to find meaning or answers through a kind of intellectual understanding of life. Nothing overly dramatic happens to their marriage. It's like real life often is-you grow apart or familiarity begins to breed contempt. The ending does give hope for a reconciliation between the two, but happily ever after is not a given.

I do think there is more here than meets the eye and it's also interesting to see Sanders and Bergman speaking in Italian.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


HULUPALOOZA!! (Post 10 of 12)

The Vanishing
The plot of George Sluzier's film The Vanishing (Spoorlos) doesn't go in the way you would think it might after you watch the first part of it..  

The Vanishing is an abduction movie light on action, but heavy on suspense. A woman is abducted at a rest stop and her boyfriend obsessively searches for her. Throughout the movie we see the abductor living his life, but we don't know what happened to his woman. We also see the boyfriend living his anguished life and desperately trying to piece together clues of her whereabouts. The way the plot turns when the boyfriend and the abductor finally meet up is original and surprising to say the least.

Sluzier remade his film in the U.S. in 1993 to very mixed reviews.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


HULUPALOOZA!!  (Post 9 of 12)

Definitely one of those cult movies I've heard about for since the late 70's but never got around to seeing. But what was it about again? Australia, Peter Weir, Richard Chamberlain...that's about all I knew about it.

After (finally) seeing it, it turns out this was about an American lawyer (Chamberlain) living in Australia that gets involved with a case involving four Aboriginal men accused of killing a man. This isn't any ordinary case. The lawyer continues to have strange dreams, mostly involving one of his clients (David Gulpilil, who also appeared in the Australian classic Walkabout). The film also involves apocalyptic weather, aboriginal tribal history and cultural clashes.

It was a movie that took me into its metaphysical plotline at times, but not nearly as far as I wanted to go with it. In other words, it's a movie I liked, but really wanted to love.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


HULUPALOOZA!(Post 8 of 12)

The 1001 movie book has never listed Terry Gilliam's film, Twelve Monkeys in any of its editions. This cerebral time-traveling sci-fi is one of my favorite films of the genre and I would definitely included it in my book.

What I didn't realize until recently was that Twelve Monkeys was based on the French film, La Jetee (The Pier) which is a twenty-eight minute French film whose story is told almost entirely through still pictures and narration. 

I'm not sure I would have even made the connection between the two films if I hadn't know it going in. La Jetee does tell its story well, though I'm not sure this form of storytelling could have survived a full length movie. The plot involves a man who sees a death at the beginning of World War III and later becomes a guinea pig in some time travel experiments to try to somehow use the information of the future and past to try to fix the problems of the present. 

One problem I have is that they tend to gloss over the time travel element. I guess the viewer should just take this as a given and get on with the plot. I admit I like time travel stories, but the viewer or reader often has to overlook the sometimes spurious nature of the science involved. I guess not everything can be as convincing a time travel device as a DeLorean speeded up to 88 miles per hour.

By the way, La Jetee is in the 1001 movie book. Let's try to find room for Twelve Monkeys in the next one, eh?

Monday, January 19, 2015


HULUPALOOZA!(Post 7 of 12)

I first became aware of Orson Welles as the heavy-set, caped guy with the grayish beard you see in the picture above. These initial impressions stem from appearances by Welles on the Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show, Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts and Paul Masson Wine commercials ("We will sell no wine...before it's time."). He also was quite entertaining as an amateur magician and with his soaring voice that accompanied his pulling a rabbit out of a hat, he was pretty impressive. I didn't then realize his reputation and influence had really taken a hit from the days when he had made classics films such as The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil and of course Citizen Kane, which cemented his reputation as the great auteur in the long run, but in the short term made it hard for him to finance projects with the studios.

But F for Fake proves the old master still had some tricks up his sleeve. It isn't exactly a documentary-but it is. It isn't really on the level-but it is and it isn't mostly about Welles-but it is.

Most of the story revolves around a famed Hungarian painter named Elmyr de Hory, whose fraudulent imitation of masterpieces are probably still hanging in Art Museums posing as the real thing. de Hory's biographer is Clifford Irving, who turns out is a fake, too.! Irving's fakery involved his biography of Howard Hughes from the early 70's, though it turned out later that Clifford never actually met Mr. Hughes. And in F is for Fake the fake was writing about another fake! And to top it off, there is Welles, who becomes part of the story with his own biography and ads a bit of fakery at the end of the film involving himself and the stunning Oja Kodar.

The movie is all over the place, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Peter Bogdanavich says in an interview that if you are on the same wavelength as F for Fake it is stunning. If you aren't, you probably won't care for it too much. I'm of the former and I'm glad the 1001 book added this one in the latest edition or it's pretty unlikely I'd have ever watched it.

Friday, January 16, 2015


HULUPALOOZA!! (Post 6 of 12)

The Ear is here!

The Ear is listening!

The Ear is coming for you!

The Ear is a movie that I knew nothing about going in and for the record  is not a horror movie like Oliver Stone's The Hand.

What The Ear depicts is a different type of horror. This involves the constant fear of surveillance by the ruling class, which in this case is the Soviet Union which explains why this movie went unseen for two decades after it was made. 

A majority of the film involves a bickering couple who argue about their personal lives as well as feeling the pressure of the man's political life being under scrutiny. The rest of the film is mostly a series of flashbacks from that night's dinner party which involves various officials and their dealings with the couple. I thought this plot device worked very well and brought into focus what the couple was experiencing in different lights.

So, I'd recommend giving this one a listen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


HULUPALOOZA!(Post 5 of 12)

The Story of a Cheat is a French comedy that didn't have a lot of laugh out loud scenes for me, but did have a lot of scenes that made me say "Ah, that was clever," to myself. The story centers around the life of a man who appears to try to lead an honest life, but through unfortunate circumstances often falls into being a con man or a thief. The film has a lot of dark humor that had to be ahead of its time, including the protagonist's family of twelve all dying of poison in such a lighthearted way. 

One interesting element of the film is that it is told almost entirely in voice-over narration. I usually complain about people that say that they don't like foreign films because they have trouble keeping up with the subtitles, but in this case, I will admit it was a little hard at times to keep track of the French narration at times since it seems at times that it's all narration! That being said, I found the narrative device to be pretty effective and my parting assessment of this film is "Ah, it is clever."

Saturday, January 10, 2015


HULUPALOOZA!! (Post 4 of 12)

A Day in the Country is Jean Renoir's forty-minute unfinished romantic romp through the countryside that is not without it's charms and is somewhat reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman's later Smiles of a Summer Night. The problem is that the film was never completed due to bad weather and the short version we see is a later edited version. This certainly would not be the first Renoir film to go to if you haven't seen any of his movies before (My choice would be Rules of the Game), but to tell you the truth, for me, Renoir films tend to get better through repeated viewings.

Maybe I'll give this one another shot. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


HULUPALOOZA!! (Post 3 of 12)

Zero for Conduct
Jean Vigo's fanciful film about boarding school boys rebelling against their oppressive school masters is serious, yet silly, realistic, yet surreal. It did influence many later films like The 400 Blows and If... among many others. I can't say I'm totally onboard the Vigo bandwagon, but at just 41 minutes, it wouldn't hurt to watch it a couple of times and see how this one moves you.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


HULUPALOOZA!! (Post 2 of 12)
Boudo Saved From Drowning

I remember when Down and Out in Beverly Hills came out in 1986, seeing reviews mention that it was a remake of the 1932 French film listed here. Down and Out in Beverly Hills was pretty funny, depicting how a affluent Beverly Hills family takes in a derelict that attempts to drown himself in their swimming pool and this derelict eventually takes over and changes their life.

Boudu Saved From Drowning  follows the same plotline in a Parisian setting and is fun...though didn't generate as many laughs as the later film. The culture and class clash here is well depicted as the family tries to reform the tramp, but he ends up reforming them even more. And the final wedding scene is a hoot.

Director Jean Renoir explores these class differences in even greater depth in Rules of the Game.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


HULUPALOOZA!! (Post 1 of 12)

Ever since I got Hulu Plus, it has proven to be a real help in going through many of the movies on the 1001 list, particularly the foreign films and other Criterion releases. I'll do twelve posts this month  from the 1001 list available on  Hulu Plus. But that's just the tip of the iceberg! There's a lot more than that to go through!

So there's no time for further explanation, as I need to get a move on cause I'm certainly not getting any younger!...and they could be dropping some French film from the cue as I type! It's time for Hulupalooza! (Ta da!)

The Blue Angel
I haven't seen The Blue Angel since I took a film class at Georgia State in the 80's. It is the famous story of an aging academic brought down by a showgirl. Marlene Dietrich became a star after this film, but for me, it's the downfall of Emil Janning's teacher that is the heart of the movie. 

I did wonder a bit why the showgirl hooks up with the teacher in the first place. He's a professor! You know how little they make? No matter, it's sad and the tragic last shot of Jannings is unforgettable.

Random note: Francine Prose wrote Blue Angel, one of my favorite novels. It is not based on the movie, but makes references to the original film and does follow a similar plotline.